A lot of time I get questions from new parents about what is safe to give babies when it comes to food and drinks. For example, a parent recently emailed to ask me:
“Do I need to give my baby water to drink when it’s hot outside?”
Babies and young children need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated in the summer heat. Did you know water makes up over two-thirds of our body? Dehydration occurs when our body loses more flood than we take in. It’s import to have fluids for you and your baby in this hot weather!
Infants under 6 months shouldn’t drink water. Babies over 6 months can take in modest amounts.
The loss of liquids can be replaced by giving a baby more breast milk or formula. Older infants and toddlers can be given very diluted fruit juice using 100% juice or fresh fruit/vegetable juice.
Another source for giving hydrating an older baby or toddler is offering fruits and vegetables with water content that is 85% water or more. Some great fruits to try are strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit and cantaloupe. Vegetables like cucumbers, zucchini, red and green tomatoes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and broccoli are also high in water content. For more idea take a look at this handout for reference.
When planning daytime activities, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says to limit sun exposure as much as possible between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is strongest. This is especially true for infants, who are less able to sweat (our body’s natural way of keeping our internal temperature down). Be extra careful about bringing baby outside in temperatures above 100 F, which can be potentially hazardous to little bodies.
Before heading outside this summer, know the signs of dehydration:
- Sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on the head
- Few or no tears when crying
- Fewer and/or less than six wet diapers in a day
- Lower energy levels and less playful activity
Since that’s a large portion of the day is hot outside, look for shade if you’re out and about to stay cool and protected from the summer heat. On very hot days, avoid overdressing your baby and keep an extra layer of clothing or light blanket in the diaper bag. Also, protect your baby’s face and neck with a brimmed hat whenever possible.
If you think your baby is dehydrated, call your pediatrician to be on the safe side. Your pediatrician will do a thorough examination and let you know if you should offer an oral rehydration (like Pedialyte) to replenish lost vitamins.